The idea for a jointly operated clinic started about a year ago, said Dr. Kristen Samaddar, a pediatrician at Phoenix Children's and one of the leaders of the yearlong program.
The youth obesity rate in Arizona was almost 20% in 2011, according to the National Survey of Children's Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 17% of U.S. children are obese, with many costly chronic illnesses such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes linked to the condition.
The obesity clinic, to be at Phoenix Children's, will monitor and treat patients ages 2 to 18. Primary-care physicians will lead the program using a patient-centered medical home model, tailoring preventive care for each child through coaching and consistent outreach. Blue Cross gave Phoenix Children's a $20,000 grant to help develop educational materials and get the program off the ground, Samaddar said.
Although other U.S. hospitals offer youth-focused obesity and weight-management clinics, such as the one based at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, few are partnered with a payer. —Bob Herman
Follow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman